I am no fan of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). I have long considered her to be a Marxist but sometimes… even those of a radical bent can surprise you. Especially if they come from a red state like Arizona. She is leading the charge in an effort to streamline the screening and deportation process for migrant families who have entered into the United States without valid legal claims for asylum. I find that shocking. Must be pressure from her conservative-leaning constituents driving this.
“This pilot program would apply to families who aren’t claiming ‘credible fear,’ which of course is the first threshold in seeking asylum,” Sinema told The Arizona Republic on Thursday. “If someone says ‘I left my country because I can’t make a living’ [or] ‘it’s hard to take care of my family,’ that’s what we call an economic migrant.”
Sinema refers to the program as “Operation Safe Return.” She helped create the pilot program with Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who chairs the Homeland Security Committee in the Senate. She initially designed the program after the Trump administration discussed potential changes to American asylum laws and mulled over challenges to court rulings that have more recently dictated immigration policy.
“I just felt those weren’t the right answers,” Sinema stated. “We wanted to solve the problem. We wanted to protect the asylum process for valid applicants … and we want to respect the Flores decision.” It’s a pity her fellow Dems are not following Sinema’s lead here. It’s a step in the right direction.
From The Daily Wire:
“Federal courts during the Obama administration ruled that the government is prohibited from detaining alien children for longer than 20 days. Since the 20-day window is often not long enough to process the detained immigrants, children and their accompanying adults are consequently separated so as not to violate what is referred to as the Flores consent decree.
“With Operation Safe Return we want to send a message to the people of Central America: Don’t indebt yourself to these human traffickers — the most evil people on the planet,” Johnson said. “It’s not worth it.”
“As sympathetic as I am toward anyone who yearns for the freedom and opportunity that America provides, it is not possible to properly accommodate all who do. Those who enter our country illegally without a valid asylum claim put themselves and our society at risk,” he continued. “The goal of our policies should be to reduce the overwhelming flow of illegal migration and convert it to a controllable number of legal immigrants.”
Arizonans bear the brunt of Washington’s failure to address our broken immigration system. We must secure the border with a comprehensive, smart, bipartisan approach – we’re calling on @DHSgov to send additional resources and staff to AZ ports. pic.twitter.com/qZGq3LgLmF
— Kyrsten Sinema (@SenatorSinema) April 17, 2019
“Sinema and Johnson are joined by seven other senators in their push to enact Operation Safe Return along the U.S.-Mexico border. Democratic Sens. Doug Jones (D-AL) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) crossed the aisle to join Republican Sens. John Barrasso (R-WY), John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike Enzi (R-WY), James Lankford (R-OK), and Rob Portman (R-OH) in the effort.
“The bipartisan group of nine penned a letter to acting Homeland Security Sec. Kevin McAleenan that describes the pilot program, reported The Arizona Republic. They will be meeting with McAleenan face-to-face in the coming weeks to discuss the program in greater detail.
“We have worked with your agencies to develop a streamlined process to rapidly, accurately, and fairly determine those family units that do not have a valid legal claim and safely return those individuals to their homes,” the Senators wrote to McAleenan. “The process would use existing authorities, but surge necessary resources to a limited, particular location on the southern border.”
“Within approximately 15 days after being encountered, the Department of Homeland Security should remove family units whose negative credible fear determinations are affirmed by the immigration judge,” the letter continued.
“[The Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection] indicated a strong interest in this program for several reasons,” Sinema added.”
I hope this works but honestly, it’s still nowhere near enough and it is not aggressive enough by far. It feels too squishy to me and much too focused on humanitarian issues and not focused on legality enough.
The program would allow DHS to remove family units within 15 days who are determined not to meet the criteria of “credible fear” of returning home necessary for an asylum claim. Those who are initially deemed to meet the “credible fear” criteria can often have their asylum cases go on for years.
This week, the Trump administration announced a policy that requires most migrants entering the country to first seek asylum in one of the countries they traveled through whether in Mexico, in Central America, or elsewhere on their journey.
Sinema has surprisingly stood up against her own party since becoming a senator in Arizona, even amid a deep partisan divide in Congress. In April she tweeted that “we must secure the border with a comprehensive, smart, bipartisan approach.”
In February, Sinema was one of only a few Democrats who voted to confirm AG Barr. In April she came out firmly against launching impeachment hearings against President Trump in the wake of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report. “No,” she said when asked by The Arizona Republic. When asked why she said: “Everyone knows.”
There are flaws in “Operation Safe Return.” It doesn’t stop illegal immigrants from lying and gaming the system. Once they get the news that they must be facing “credible fear” to gain access, that is what they will claim. This should be simple – if you come here illegally, you should immediately get booted. In fact, you should never get over the border in the first place. The solution to all of this is still a wall. #WeBuildTheWall